Paul Ryan is willing to step down from his role as co-chairman of the Republican National Convention in July if Donald Trump asks him to do so, he told reporters on Monday.
The comment, made in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, was the latest sign that many Republican leaders are willing to walk away from their party’s presumptive nominee and distance themselves from the controversy and chaos of his campaign. Many believe Trump will lose badly in a general election, and that he could take senators and representatives down with him.
Ryan declined to endorse Trump last week, telling CNN: “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now.”
Trump at first responded with statement: “I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda.”
He later expressed disappointment, telling NBC on Sunday: “He called me, I think, to congratulate me about New York, ’cause I won by massive numbers.”
Ryan’s staff has since made clear that the two hadn’t spoken since March, more than a month before New York’s 19 April primary. However, Trump also made clear he does not place great value on the speaker’s support. “No. It’s just the way it is,” Trump said. “I don’t think it hurts me at all. And I’d like to have his support, but if he doesn’t want to support me that’s fine.”
As speaker of the House, Ryan would be expected to preside over the Republican party’s convention as chairman this summer. Though his office has called the role mostly “ceremonial”, he would be expected, as the party’s leader in Congress, to bless the nominee and rally Republicans around the candidate.